Sustainable development, ensuring the durability of resources, requires an integrated approach that focuses on human capital building, on the didactics of dilemmas and contradiction and on looking at new governance solutions. The three-bottom-line of sustainable development must not be read as a compound of different “things”, but as an analytical approach to a single systemic reality. Otherwise, the dominant and false understanding of it will continue prevailing, looking at economics as the “bad, polluting, part”, society as requiring a sort of purgatory (humans being seen as good but sinners) and environment as the “good, suffering, part”.
The quantity of energy that our bodies need, or the needs for dwelling, transporting or storing are very similar across the planet, but humans act on them in different ways, based on their memories, beliefs and technical knowledge, i.e., based on their cultures.
Re-shaping global economy and finances for economic growth and social equity pays a heavy tribute to territorial resources that are unevenly distributed. Within a global system, disruptions will not be overcome without an integrated set of strategies, which must be rooted in diverse but shared memories and based in a single common territory but encompassing the various cultural understandings of it.
For these reasons, improving the widespread knowledge of geosciences in society is a priority for research, since the lack of understanding of the full scope and implications of the research advances prevents society both from taking adequate and well informed decisions on public related matters, and drives social attention away from the needs to still reinforce the support for research, and namely fundamental research.
Two main components serve an efficient strategy of knowledge socialization. On one hand the dissemination of practical innovations that contribute towards improving life quality and meeting global targets (e.g. the environment targets); this is a process through which applied research delivers tangible results. Geotechnologies directly address this component. On the other hand, didactics of geosciences, following the path of the International Year of Planet Earth, the announce International Year for Global Understanding and similar initiatives at different scales, helps in consolidating new understanding of the nature and role of geosciences, and their potential use in everyday life. Geoparks, cultural heritage management or experimental archaeology dissemination, integrate this second component, associating research, preservation and education.
This will be the approach of the thematic line of CGeo in this domain.
There is a growing concern on the effects of global warming and on the dilemma concerning the use of fossil energy. Amidst a very severe global crisis, it is not the first time that the exchange networks are affected and social turmoil increases. The combination of environmental and climatic factors led, in the past, to several civilizations extinctions. But there are also many examples of resilience and growth after great crisis. In these cases, it is not as much the nature of the resources, or of their geographical distribution, that secured such resilience, but the human capital within the society, the technological improvements and the networks established with other groups that provided a basis for growth.
The thematic lines in CGeo are aimed at merging the efforts of the research groups into a series of common objectives. This way, CGeo has a matrix structure, with the research groups integrating researchers with a primary focal interest in the specific aims of each group, and the thematic lines rendering operational such aims within converging efforts of all groups. Hence, the research groups act as interfaces with other research units with converging interests, and offer the expertise accumulated in CGeo in “program driven” topics, whereas the thematic lines are more “projects driven” under a set of specific objectives that go across all the groups.
Also in this thematic line, there will be one coordinating team, lead by a researcher from one of the groups and integrated by 1 researcher from each of the other 2 groups. It is a light structure, with three major tasks: 1) outlining specific fundamental or applied research projects that address one of the seven aims of the thematic line, also considering the PhD and Master courses associated to CGeo; 2) planning the publications strategy within the line; 3) identifying scientific meetings where CGeo should be present to discuss the results of research within the line.
This coordinating structure, due to the nature of its composition, immediately secures the necessary links with CGeo board and with each of the research groups.
The website of CGeo and other communication tools of the groups and of the associated institutions, will be used to share information on the advances of research.
CGeo has a long record in the dimension of knowledge socialization, as has been stated in the first part of the current project, assessing past achievements. In the 2015-2020 cycle this past expertise becomes an integrated approach within a specific thematic line.
Following the two components stated above, this thematic line defines as specific objectives:
Examples of specific actions that may be structured within this thematic line are: scientific museology; landslide knowledge transfer for construction industry; territorial management and special management units (e.g. Geoparks); monitoring of mining exploration impact on the life quality of neighboring people.
CGeo explicitly aims at contributing to the Future Earth initiative, in this research line namely in the fields of solution-oriented research in the domain of energy and geotechnology, collaborative work involving natural and human sciences, generation of knowledge to support regional assessments and collaborating with policy-makers, funders, academics, business and industry, and other sectors of civil society in co-designing and co-producing research agendas and knowledge (e.g. supporting the initiative of the International Geographic Union with ICSU, ICSS and ICPHS to organize in 2016 the International Year for Global Understanding).